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In the Still of the Night: The Strange Death of Ronda Reynolds and Her Mother's Unceasing Quest for the Truth [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Ann Rule , Blair Brown
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 6 2012
FROM TRUE-CRIME LEGEND ANN RULE comes this riveting story of a young woman whose life ended too soon—and a determined mother’s eleven-year crusade to clear her daughter’s name.

It was nine days before Christmas 1998, and thirty-two-year-old Ronda Reynolds was getting ready to travel from Seattle to Spokane to visit her mother and brother and grandmother before the holidays. Ronda’s second marriage was dissolving after less than a year, her career as a pioneering female Washington State Trooper had ended, but she was optimistic about starting over again. "I’m actually looking forward to getting on with my life," she told her mother earlier the night before. "I just need a few days with you guys." Barb Thompson, Ronda’s mother, who had met her daughter’s second husband only once before, was just happy that Ronda was coming home.

At 6:20 that morning, Ron Reynolds called 911 and told the dispatcher his wife was dead. She had committed suicide, he said, although he hadn’t heard the gunshot and he didn’t know if she had a pulse. EMTs arrived, detectives arrived, the coroner’s deputy arrived, and a postmortem was conducted. Lewis County Coroner Terry Wilson, who neither visited the death scene nor attended the autopsy, declared the manner of Ronda’s death as "undetermined." Over the next eleven years, Coroner Wilson would change that manner of death from "undetermined" to "suicide," back to "undetermined"—and then back to "suicide" again.

But Barb Thompson never for one moment believed her daughter committed suicide. Neither did Detective Jerry Berry or ballistics expert Marty Hayes or attorney Royce Ferguson or dozens of Ronda’s friends. For eleven grueling years, through the ups and downs of the legal system and its endless delays, these people and others helped Barb Thompson fight to strike that painful word from her daughter’s death certificate.

On November 9, 2009, a precedent-setting hearing was held to determine whether Coroner Wilson’s office had been derelict in its duty in investigating the death of Ronda Reynolds. Veteran true-crime writer Ann Rule was present at that hearing, hoping to unbraid the tangled strands of conflicting statements and mishandled evidence and present all sides of this haunting case and to determine, perhaps, what happened to Ronda Reynolds, in the chill still of that tragic December night.

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About the Author

Ann Rule is the author of thirty New York Times bestsellers, all of them still in print. Her first bestseller was The Stranger Beside Me, about her personal relationship to infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. A former Seattle police officer, she knows the crime scene firsthand. For more than two decades, she has been a powerful advocate for victims of violent crime. She lives near Seattle. Visit her at

Blair Brown appeared on Broadway in Copenhagen (Tony Award) Cabaret, James Joyce's The Dead and Arcadia. Favorite film credits include Dogville, Continental Divide, and Altered States. On television, she starred in The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd and has appeared in countless mini-series and TV movies.

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Customer Reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars loved it April 21 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My favored author. I have read all her books and love them. She is an excellent true crime writer.
Can't wait for the nexr one coming out.
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3.0 out of 5 stars MURDER!!!...SHE WROTE... April 10 2012
By Lawyeraau TOP 100 REVIEWER
The thrust of the book is the death in 1998 of a thirty two year old woman who was killed in her home by virtue of a gun shot wound to the head. This occurred on the eve of her leaving her husband and returning home to visit with her mother and grandmother. When a friend came by to pick her up to take her to the airport, instead of finding her ready to go, he found her home swarming with law enforcement personnel, as she was dead. The death had been called in by her estranged husband.

The incompetence of the Lewis County Sheriff's department in Washington State boggles the mind. Clearly, those who had gone to the scene had never taken "crime scene 101". They were positively clueless on how to handle such an investigation. By the time the lead homicide investigator arrived at the scene, it had been thoroughly compromised by incompetence.

Moreover, the investigation was further compromised by the Lewis County Coroner's Office, as the Coroner did not even bother to appear at the scene. In fact, he had never bothered to appear at any such scene, preferring to send his deputy, a woman whose only qualification for the position had been that of beautician's assistant. The Lewis County Coroner then classified the death as a suicide, despite staggering evidence to the contrary, and the Lewis County Sheriff's Department fell in lockstep with that assessment. The keystone cops looked like geniuses next to these bumbling fools.

But for the efforts of the mother of the deceased and a stalwart group of friends and outraged professionals, the dirty secret of Lewis County incompetence might never have seen the light of day.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tribute to a Woman in Blue Jan. 9 2011
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
I have always had great respect for how Rule presents her real-life crime detective stories. One, they are well-researched and, two, they offer a very human, down-to-earth dimension that reflects the author's attempts to get to know the victims and their families in a personal and informative way. "In the Still of the Night" is no exception. The story portrays the life of Ronda Reynolds in her struggles to become a Washington State trooper in the late 1980s and her eventual untimely murder in 1998. To create as clear a timeline as possible as to Ronda's achievements and eventual destiny, Rule delves into her background as only a good former detective would. Out of her search distills memories that are decent, troubling and, in some cases, despicable. Ronda and her family, led by her very inspiring mother, Barb Thompson, definitely come across as people intent on making a positive difference in this world. In Ronda's case, it was her burning desire to be a police officer, even though numerous people attempted to discourage her in this pursuit. If Ronda had anything wrong with her, it had to be her vulnerability in working with males. She grew up needing, but not getting, a strong male figure in her life. While she reached her career goal, her private life fell apart because she did not bring to her two marriages a corresponding strength and determination to make them work. How could she when she carried with her such a blighted past when it came to surviving in a male-dominated world? This story takes off after her second marriage to high school principal, Ron Reynolds, started to fall apart. Months later, her husband, one night, phoned 911 to inform the authorities that Ronda had just committed suicide as a result of an ongoing bout of depression. Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  162 reviews
137 of 157 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Oct. 31 2010
By CCCPitt - Published on
I have been an avid reader of Ann Rule's books since I was a teenager. I would eagerly await her new releases and rush out to the bookstore (or, later, the internet) to purchase them the day they were released. As much as I hate to say it, this book is a big disappointment. Not only is it sub-par for an Ann Rule novel, but it is sub-par for true crime novels in general. My impression having just finished this book is that she became emotionally invested in this case and developed a close personal relationship with the victim's (or alleged victim's, I suppose) mother. Perhaps her relationship clouded her judgment and Ms. Rule lost sight of what makes her novels so great (which begins with a compelling story and her well-written and unbiased telling of that story). While it is clear that the story told in this book is compelling, it really is not worthy of carrying an entire novel on its own. It would have been better-suited for one of Ms. Rule's 'short story' volumes. If you are a fan of true crime, and in particular of Ann Rule, this book will likely be a disappointment.
84 of 100 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars SO disappointing! Oct. 25 2010
By Aledo - Published on
Well. First I must mention that I love Ann rule's books. She is a superb true crime writer. But this one deeply disappointed me---I couldn't wait to read it, but there is no suspense since we know at the outset that Rhonda is killed and no one knows who did it. Lot of speculation but no satisfying outcome. This book is really about Rhonda's mother. OK, Ms. Rule thinks Rhonda and her Mom are FABULOUS people. That is probably true but not enough to write an entire book about---something Ms. Rule is passionate about is not necessarily something readers will care about.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Like a home movie...only good if you knew/loved the characters... Jan. 28 2011
By The Sitting Room - Published on
I love Ann Rule. I've read all of books and eagerly anticipated the release of her next one. As I turned the pages of "In the Still of the Night" I kept asking "When does it get good? Who tied Ann Rule up in a basement and wrote a book under her name?" I felt like Ann allowed herself to mistakenly judge a good story by her involvement with a character who became a good friend. In the same way home movies hold your attention if you love the people in them, I suppose this book was interesting to people closer to the principals in the story. But for the rest of us this was the equivalent of a home movie you watch to be polite out of respect for the host. Ann, please identify the next big crime - and give us back the dramatic, suspenseful, page-turning true crime novels we expect and love you for.
43 of 51 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Oct. 24 2010
By Ada - Published on
I have always been an Ann Rule fan and have all of her books. In my estimation, she's the best true crime writer. However, this book was a disappointment. It's a case in which nothing is resolved, except a mother's sucess in removing suicide from her daughter's death certificate. I found it rather dull, reading an entire book on this subject. I don't read true crime for the "blood & guts" but like to be able to get into the mind of the killer. I also enjoy the legal aspect, trials etc. This book has neither.
34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In The Still Of The Night Nov. 14 2010
By Tami - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ann Rule is one of my most favorite authors of true crime. This story is spellbinding to me because I know the coroner involved and am from Lewis County Washington. I have been following the case regarding Ronda Reynolds since she was first killed. It is pretty plain to see it was not a suicide like the coroner has put on the death certificate. I'm so glad her mom has been fighting for justice. I do not see how Ron Reynolds can be the elementary principal in Toledo after reading this book. Ann Rule puts all the pieces together and I hope that someone comes forward with the truth and collects the $30,000 reward and the killer is free no longer.
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